Ye Old Sea Cliff Fortress wallpaper – Conservative Economics and Self-flagellation

night, landscape, ocean coast,

Ye Old Sea Cliff Fortress wallpaper

 

Today is mostly a collection of news quickies.

Let’s all keep telling ourselves that conservatives are not trying to sabotage the economy for political gain just to exercise our power of denial muscle: Economist: Senate GOP jobs plan wouldn’t help economy in short term, and could even hurt

The GOP unveiling of the plan was widely treated as major news, and Republicans are challenging Obama to respond to their plan — a challenge that’s also garnering widespread coverage.

But an economist I spoke to just now said there isn’t enough information in the plan to evaluate whether it could even achieve its goals as Republicans themselves have defined them. He said it won’t help the economy in the short term, and could even make matters worse.

“I don’t have enough detail to evaluate how many jobs this would create,” Gus Faucher, the director of macroeconomics at Moody’s Analytics, told me. “I could say, `My plan is to do nothing, and it will create five million jobs.’ And it could work, particularly if I don’t say over what time period.”

Moody’s recently estimated that Obama’s jobs plan, if passed, would add two percentage points to economic growth next year, add 1.9 million jobs, and cut unemployment by a full percentage point. By contrast, the Senate GOP plan isn’t designed to help the economy in the short term, Faucher said.

The Republican jobs plan, and it is being very generous to call it a plan, is really just a reiteration of extreme right-wing talking points that we can all repeat in out sleep at this point. Do way with taxes, Medicare, worker safety regulations, food safety regulations, pollution laws that saves tens of thousands of American lives, kill financial regulation, let women die on hospital floors, trade agreements that kill American jobs and we’ll all be living in paradise living off honey and t-bone streak.

Yet another conservative myth shattered – Over Regulation is not responsible for high unemployment.

Even Business Week and the fact checker at the WaPo think Hermanator Cain’s financial IQ could use a large infusion of facts. Cain’s Sales Tax Would Hurt Consumer Spending ’For Some Years’ and Herman Cain’s 999 plan: a misleading pitch

Right now, nearly half of taxpayers don’t pay income taxes, but they do pay their share of payroll taxes, which amounts to 7.65 percent of wage income (though much of it is capped at $107,000). Cain would also eliminate the earned-income tax credit, which is intended to lift working Americans out of poverty. Many of these workers currently receive tax refunds.

[  ]…Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan administration official who now calls himself an independent, also offered a critical examination this week on the New York Times Economix blog. He (as did Kleinbard) noted that the business tax allows for no deduction for wages, which he said  “is likely to raise the cost of employing workers, even with abolition of the employers’ share of the payroll tax.”

Cain, in his television appearances, glosses over such details.

Difficult to believe, but Cain worked as a mathematician while in was in the military. This is how he explained the extra burden of his 9% sales tax( that would be on top of any sales taxes you’re paying now),

Cain: I’m going to use $50,000 a year, since that’s approximately what the median income is for a family in this country. [For a] family of four, $50,000 a year. Under the current system, based upon standard deductions and standard exemptions, they’re going to pay $10,200 in taxes. Under the 9-9-9 plan, the middle 9, they’re going to pay $4,500. That leaves $5,700 to apply to that milk and bread in terms of the taxes. You have to go through the numbers of each individual situation.

Well the people who are currently not paying federal income taxes or not paying much because of deductions such as the mortgage deduction or earned income credit would be paying that 9% sales tax and they would not be paying it out of what they saved in income taxes because they would no longer have their itemized deductions. It is also at least partly a shell game to say that most people will come out ahead because they can take their income tax savings, tun around and pay their sales taxes with what was savings five minutes ago. Herman is no more a loon than Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich or Santorum, but he is no less loony either. Cain also made this reality defying statement in the same NPR interview:

One of the reasons that I believe that this happened(speaking about the Iranian assassination plot), Scott, is that this president is perceived is weak, and weakness invites attack. I happen to believe that that’s why they attempted to do something like this to thumb their nose at the American people, to thumb that nose at the United States of America because this president is perceived as weak.

Thus far President Obama and the U.S. military under his leadership have killed several high level terrorist that the Bush administration had not during two terms in office. The 9-11 attacks happened on Bush’s watch. Multiple terror attacks happened during the Bush presidency in Europe and Asia. Yet Herman, using his super duper CEO mind concludes, and he, by his public statements wants the world to think, Obama is “weak”. Could someone check Herman’s back and see if the puppet strings are attached to Dick Cheney’s hand.

Rick Perry defends his wife’s claim that he’s been ‘brutalized’ for his faith. Mrs Perry does get one thing right in yet another us true believe’n white right-wing Christianists are poor little victims card; the Right have been the most brutal critics. This all or mostly because of Perry’s stance on in-state tuition for immigrants. In the land of Wingnuttia xenophobia wins out.

As we all know conservative are the grand pooh pahs of Christian values, foreign policy and how to prosecute teenage girls for having miscarriages. So the giant conservative wart known as Rush Limbaugh must be right when he claims – Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians

Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the combat Lord’s Resistance Army.  And here we are at war with them.  Have you ever heard of Lord’s Resistance Army, Dawn?  How about you, Brian?  Snerdley, have you?  You never heard of Lord’s Resistance Army?  Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them.  Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians.  It means God.  I was only kidding.  Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians.  They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan.  And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.  That’s what the lingo means, “to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,” meaning capture or kill.

So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and — (interruption) no, I’m not kidding.  Jacob Tapper just reported it.

President Obama explains his sending military advisers to central Africa – Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate Regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army. Max Fisher provides some insight into the reasoning behind sending advisers and why Limbaugh has aligned himself with a child rapist, slaver, child murderer, mass murderer and war criminal who claims he rules in the name of the Ten Commandments – Why Is Obama Sending Troops Against the Lord’s Resistance Army?

Part insurgency and part cult, the Lord’s Resistance Army has waged a 20-year campaign of terror across Uganda, where it originally formed in opposition to the government there, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Sudan. It raids villages, massacres for no other purpose than bloodlust, enslaves child soldiers and child sex slaves, drugs its captives to make them more violent, all in an apparently endless mission that has destroyed countless villages and killed thousands of civilians, transforming one of the world’s least governed spaces into one of its most dangerous.

A 2009 U.S. law authorizing financial support to Uganda against the LRA cites studies finding the LRA had abducted 66,000 children and displaced two million civilians. Last year, Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth — no hawk — called on Obama to use U.S. military force against the Lord’s Resistance Army. Roth cited the group’s overwhelming humanitarian toll, its small size, and (unlike, for example, the Taliban) its extreme unpopularity among the populations it terrorizes.

More on the LRA and their leader Joseph Kony – Girl Soldiers – The cost of survival in Northern Uganda

“A person who believes in God cannot kill, cannot rape people, cannot burn their house … cutting their ears, cutting their necks,” Lucy says. Kony “is a devil, not God.”

“When you first arrive [after being abducted by the rebels], they put all the girls together. Then they call the officers so they can pick who they want for a wife. Even if you are very young. I was given to a very big man. He was blind on one side. So maybe he didn’t see that I was very young.”

[  ]…“They told me to lie down, and they said, ‘You pick: Do you want life or death?,’” she recounts. “Then they brought a boy near me and killed him using a panga. They cut him here (her finger slices her neck), here (waist), here (legs) … Then they told me, ‘Have you seen what has happened with that boy?’ I started crying. ‘You are crying!’ Then, they started beating me.”

She chose “life,” which meant that for 2.5 years she was forced to have sex with her husband twice a week, each time crying and each time being beat for her tears. She would sometimes be denied food for up to five days and almost just as long without water—when deprived water, soldiers would make her drink someone else’s urine. She was only required to fight in the field once, but was forced several times a week to pillage villages to gather food and clothing.
Kony was set to sign a peace agreement in April of this year, officially putting an end to a war that left nearly 2 million people homeless, 80 percent of who were women and children. But he never showed. The LRA still managed to stay in the headlines, however, when they orchestrated over 300 abductions in Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.

 

So all that means nothing to “Christian”, foreign policy expert, fake patriot, serial liar and drug addict Limbaugh. Kony is anti-Muslim and that is all that matters.

The conservative blog American Power, it should go without saying, also considers itself experts on foreign policy and U.S. history. They write about the military advisers – Obama Administration to Deploy Military Advisors to Uganda

Well, it’s certainly fits the progressive rationale for foreign military intervention: human rights. But 100 “advisers”? Sounds like how the Kennedy administration sent advisers to Vietnam and we ended up with 500,000 troops in country by the end of 1965.

That ragged bit of insight is the sum of their wisdom. First it was president Eisenhower who first sent military advisers to Vietnam. While the public was told at the time there would be no American military intervention it has since become well known that US Air Force pilots flew to support the French during Operation Castor in November 1953. Even if he had managed to use the correct president and got the details correct drawing direct parallels is stretching reality. We’re sending 100 advisers to a country being terrorized by one brutal psycho. What came to be 16,000 advisers in Vietnam were our forward eyes on what many thought was the advance of Soviet communism across Asia with the material support of the Chinese. Central Africa, if we play it right could be another victory in the proper application of U.S. power such as Libya, to some degree Egypt, the Balkans and saving the Kurds after Desert Storm. We actually have small contingents of troops in about a dozen countries right now. They might be preventing the next wave of mass murders. It might be inconsistent to pick our battles, but there is nothing wrong with picking the right ones where we help local civilians. Battles that at least during the Obama administration, has been at minimal cost, either financially or in military casualties.

The 53 Percent Take on the 99 Percent

A number of publications including Slate and the Washington Post have already pointed out that the other 47 percent don’t pay taxes because they are simply too poor. Slate’s Suzy Khimm summarizes neatly:

About half of households within that 47 percent do not end up paying federal income tax because they qualify for enough breaks to cancel their tax obligations out. Of that group, 44 percent are claiming tax benefits for the elderly, like an exemption for Social Security payments. And 30.4 percent are claiming credits for “children and the working poor,” like the child-care tax credit… When combined, it’s all enough to cancel out their income tax requirements… The other half of households are just too poor to pay them.

But Think Progress takes their analysis a step further, looking into the claims of hardship made by Erickson:

The three jobs Erickson wants you to believe he scrapes by on include occasional paid opinion blogging at RedState.com, a lucrative television contract with CNN, and a radio gig that paid the previous host $165,183 a year…The house Erickson can’t sell? Bibb County, Georgia records reveal that Erickson just bought a new $374,900 house in February of this year, and owns another that, according to an estimate by the website Zillow, might be worth slightly less than the amount he paid for it in 2001. And it’s likely that Erickson’s CNN job alone provides him with a personal driver and covered travel expenses when he needs to appear on the show.

Interestingly, many of the claims made in the We Are the 53% blog echo those made in the We Are the 99 Percent blog: “got laid off”, “slept in my car because I couldn’t afford housing”, “after a mildly successful career, I lost everything in 2009”.

It’s not that the 53 percent people haven’t suffered, these pictures seem to say. It’s that having clawed their way out of crisis, they now see virtue in their suffering. One commenter on Think Progress site summarized the mindset:

Look at me. I ran through a field of bear traps and only had to gnaw off one limb. Builds character.

Poor ol Erick Erickson

Besides misdirected resentment at the working poor and believing in all that Glenn Beck -Fannie May-Barnie Frank bull, the 53% seem to have an unhealthy obsession with self  flagellation. What most workers have come to know as hallmarks of modern civilization: a fair wage, a forty hour week, over time pay, worker’s compensation, week ends off, fire exits that are not locked down, health care benefits – are all things the 53% think are signs that we’ve turned into a nation of spoiled brats. I remember seeing a Monty Python sketch on late night TV where several of the troop played the I had it worse than you game. It went something like – I got up in the morning, ate a hand full of dirt, walked ten miles in eight foot snow drifts and worked a 23 hour day in a dark mine digging coal with my bare hands. Than the next guy would one up him on the hardship he endured. This is the game the 53% are playing. Only their version of the skit isn’t funny.

This might be what I was thinking of, Monty Python – Four Yorkshiremen

Part of the dialogue:

… “Oooooh, we used to dream of living in a corridor. It would have been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish [heap]. We got woken up every morning to having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us. House? Uh!”
“Oh, when I said house I meant a hole in the ground covered by a piece of twig. It was a house to us.”
“We were evicted from our hole in the ground. We had to go and live in the lake!”
“You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in a small shoebox in the middle of the road.”
“Cardboard box?” …

Black and White City Overpass wallpaper – Conservatives Are Still Beggars For an Honest Narrative

city scenes, urban landscapes

Black and White City Overpass wallpaper

Republicans increasingly see Mitt Romney as the ‘inevitable candidate’

Buoyed by a series of strong debate performances, Mitt Romney is suddenly attracting new support from major donors and elected officials, some of whom had resisted his previous entreaties, as people across the GOP grow more accepting of the presidential contender as the party’s standard-bearer.

“He’s viewed as an almost inevitable candidate,” said longtime strategist Ed Rollins, who until last month managed the campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), one of Romney’s opponents. “He’s the heavy favorite.”

The party establishment seems to be moving Romney’s way, even as a new national poll highlighted the volatility of the race. A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll showed the surging businessman Herman Cain numerically ahead of Romney for the first time, 27 percent to 23 percent, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry third, at 16 percent.

All the polls have Cain ahead so this WaPo story might seem to be jumping the gun. Yet it makes note of a long tradition of conservative politics at the national level. The first is the establishment almost always wins when there is a division. What might complicate matters in this case is the meme – helped spread in the morning news by the Today Show and Chuck Todd – that Cain is outside the establishment. That is not the reality even if it is a perception held by the Right. Cain is a parrot of Koch brothers talking points. It might come down to which part of the conservative establishment has the most power. That is if and only if Cain’s support is honestly reflected in the polls. There are reasons which I linked to previously which suggests when it comes time to pull that lever conservative voters will actually vote for Romney.

It has not become a pattern yet, but Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News recently sided with Romney over a southern right-wing conservative. If the Fox narrative starts to regularly favor Romney, Cain’s fifteen minutes are up.

This cycle’s Republican presidential contenders all seem to have personality disorders. Romney just appears to have a little more control and polish than the rest of the pack. Unless someone really screws up the current three front-runners Cain, Romney and Perry will stay in the front. Cain’s brand of screwy solutions, demonizing and unhinged narcissism goes over great with the far Right. It has bought Cain a lot of attention. That attention means closer scrutiny – Ron Paul Calls Out Herman Cain For Lie Over Fed Audit During GOP Debate 

At the GOP Bloomberg/Washington Post debate Tuesday night, Ron Paul, the longest-serving advocate of a Fed audit in Congress, asked Herman Cain, a former director of the Kansas City Fed, why he opposed an audit of the central bank, and why he called advocates of such an audit ignorant.

“Mr. Cain, in the past you have been rather critical of any of us who would want to audit the Fed. You have said — you’ve used pretty strong terms, that we were ignorant and that we didn’t know what we are doing, and therefore, there was no need for an audit anyway, because if you had one, you’re not going to find out anything, because everybody knows everything about the Fed,” Paul said.

Cain taking up for bog gov’mint. As Paul notes there was an audit and the Fed, in addition to the publicly known bail-out (TARP) was also making short-term loans ( sometimes for a few days) that totaled in the trillions. Either Cain is ignorant on the subject or he is lying.

A careful check of the Internet, however — guided by the Paul campaign — turns up audio of Cain saying just what Paul accused him of saying. As recently as 2010, long after the Fed began engaging in the lending Cain says he opposed, Cain belittled those calling for an audit.

“Some people say that we ought to audit the Fed. Here’s what I do know. The Federal Reserve already has so many internal audits it’s ridiculous. I don’t know why people think we’re gonna learn this great amount of information by auditing the Federal Reserve. I think a lot of people are calling for this audit of the Federal Reserve because they don’t know enough about it. There’s no hidden secrets going on in the Federal Reserve to my knowledge,” he said.

To his knowledge? Here’s an idea, wait for facts before opening mouth. Here is what one Cain supporter thinks about Cain, “Cain presents himself as a real person. He speaks from the heart. He is plainspoken and down to Earth,”. If all of Cain’s supporters are that ignorant  Cain will continue to do well no matter how big a foot he sticks in his mouth. Just two years ago some had thought we were in an era of post racial politics. Not so much for the Hermanator. I’m pretty sure that no one can get away with this kind of blatant racism, – Herman Cain accuses blacks of racism for not supporting him

GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain said Tuesday that many liberal Democrats in the black community are “racist” for questioning his political ambitions as a black conservative Republican.

“A lot of these liberal, leftist folk in this country, that are black, they’re more racist than the white people that they’re claiming to be racist,” Cain said Tuesday in a radio interview on the conservative Neal Boortz talk show.

Cain’s really been on a roll with his outreach to black voters lately. He recently said African-Americans are victims of “brainwashing” who can’t think for themselves. In his interview yesterday with Boortz, he also said that Barack Obama has “never been a part of the black experience in America.” Clearly, the only reason black voters still overwhelmingly support the president is because they’re a bunch of racists. Or not:

Boortz interrupted Cain, saying he prefers the word “bigoted” to “racist.”

Oh, whoops. Right. They’re not racists, according to racism expert Neal Boortz. They’re “bigoted.”

“Ok, bigoted,” Cain said. “How dare Herman Cain, first, run as a Republican? How dare Herman Cain be conservative? And how dare he move up in the polls, so that he just might challenge our beloved Obama? That’s the problem they have.”

Memo to Cain: If you’re looking to woo black voters away from the evil clutches of the Democratic Party, calling them a bunch of brainwashed racists bigots probably isn’t the best way to do it.

It is not a particularly racial issue to listen to Cain and wonder what he’s been smoking. His 9-9-9 plan would rise taxes on the working poor and the lower middle-class. It would also increase the deficit. When confronted with the numbers and asked how his plan would work he replied, “I Have No Idea’ How My 999 Plan Would Work”. The plan itself was just a kind of idea tossed around by a Koch affiliated finance advisory, not a team of economists. To conservatives of any color this would not be the first time they bought into a socioeconomic agenda that totally disregarded the consequences – see The Great Recession. Conservative voters, and Cain is well aware of this since he shares the tendency, are not interested in facts and consequences, they just want to be reassured that the batsh*t insane stuff they believe in is true. Cain can keep talking down to the black community, a tactic that is supposed to deflect from his reaffirmation of voodoo economics, and the black community will react like most Americans, repelled by the specter of another know nothing right-wing presidency.

Romney is also going to come under increased scrutiny. Democrats and anyone who has been paying attention has noted the flips and flops and flipped again. Romney-Kennedy Health Care Bill Signing

This Ted Kennedy lovefest footage from the 2006 bill-signing ceremony for the health care law is probably not what Romney wants GOP primary voters to have in mind when they enter a polling place or caucus meeting. When he has discussed his health care law on the presidential campaign trail—in 2007 and this past year—Romney has occasionally noted that it demonstrated his ability to work with the opposition, including the late Sen. Kennedy. But in these settings he doesn’t describe Kennedy as his “collaborator” whose work “behind the scenes” was “absolutely essential” for passage of the health care plan. Nor does he call Kennedy, whom Romney praised for winning crucial federal support for the Massachusetts bill, a “parent” of Romneycare.

Yet on the day his health care plan became state law, an excited Romney joyously shared credit with the liberal lion of the US Senate.

As of Tuesday, only 2,016 people have viewed this video, which was posted during Romney’s 2007 presidential campaign. It would not be surprising if Romney’s opponents in the current campaign find a way to direct a bit more traffic in its direction.

If we lived a world that made sense Romney would embrace his participation in health care reform. I wonder how the business community – the health insurance industry(Insurance industry now pushing to implement health care law) in particular feels about Mr. Flippity-Flop’s promise to repeal the PPC. Health insurers see big profit potential and all the rabid Right sees are visions of Karl Marx.

Move Your Money is an effort to get bank customers to move their accounts out of “too big to fail” financial institutions and into credit unions and community banks.” Folks might also consider getting their major credit cards issued from a smaller bank or credit union and cutting up their old ones.

Open Letter to that 53% Guy.

In the picture, you’re holding up a sheet of paper that says:

I am a former Marine.
I work two jobs.
I don’t have health insurance.
I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college.
I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.
But I don’t blame Wall Street.
Suck it up you whiners.
I am the 53%.
God bless the USA!

I wanted to respond to you as a liberal.  Because, although I think you’ve made yourself clear and I think I understand you, you don’t seem to understand me at all.  I hope you will read this and understand me better, and maybe understand the Occupy Wall Street movement better.

The best thing to do is go over and read the whole letter. The letter refers to this adult Marine as a kid a few times. Some people are put off by that and they may have a point. In my travels it is pretty common for fifty and sixty year olds to refer to twentysomethings as kids. One of the big themes at the 53% tumblr site is a general resentment. They have that in common with the 99%. Where they differ is the same old story. The 99% are generally people who want work, more work or work that pays a living wage and resent Wall Street for crashing the economy in the first place. The 53% seem to think the 99% are people asking for a free ride. They resent what they see as the free loaders. The 53% are just plain factually wrong. That Marine is not working 60 or 70 hours a week because of or to support  the 99%. neither is anyone else at 53%. They seem to suffer from the same can’t see the forest for the trees syndrome. That sign about working so many hours and sacrificing so much of one’s life just to survive is a testament to and admission the system is broken for – no not a literal 99% of the people – but for over half the working age population.

Poor people, Fannie May and Barney Frank did not create an economy that makes anyone work two or three jobs. That bit of urban myth is well entrench on the Right – Bachmann, Gingrich and WSJ agree: The financial crisis is poor people’s fault. Wall Street lost trillions of the nation’s wealth. They were bailed out because everyone thought our entire financial system would collapse. Who was first to make that argument? Three conservatives – Ben Bernanke, George Bush and Henry Paulson. While Wall Street has recovered and American businesses are making prerecession profits the nation is still missing that trillions in wealth – part of the reason for unemployment, under-employment, foreclosures and underwater mortgages. So the 53% – maybe that Marine is aware of this, maybe not, is dedicated to defending the myth that Wall Street is good and virtuous and has nothing to do with our economic circumstances. The 99% Tumblr blog is here. Since so many of us have made an effort to see the 53%’s POV it is only fitting they read what the 99% has to say.

There are a few other issues with that letter and ones like them. Why didn’t a vet get any college assistance. Some vets on other blogs have posed that question. Did he mean to say he worked two jobs in the military and that paid for college? Don’t have any health care benefits. That means the system is broken. Kind of funny that I have been working since I was a kid (early teens), sometimes two jobs. For three summers, three jobs. I paid my way through college. Lots of people have done the same. What’s his point. he and others at 53% seem to be using stories like that – everyone over there seems to be working multiple jobs – as a cudgel to beat other hard-working people with who they have not bothered to get the facts about. That is when they are not using it as a shield against disagreeing with the root cause of our problems. The Great Recession was caused mostly by greed, reckless malfeasance of the wealthy, lack of regulation and lack of enforcement of the regulation we did have. All of this did not happen in a few years. It started a few decades ago with the slow dismantling of the protections instituted during the New Deal. Centrist Democrats bought into it almost as much as conservatives. One of the great ironies of the 53% – if even half of them turn out to be legitimate stories – is they’d all be working less and making more if the 99% got their economic reforms and everyone could get a job with a living wage. The 99% would spend their income buying the goods and services that the 53% say they provide. Apparently the 53% would rather declare class warfare on behalf of some of history’s biggest thieves.

Farm Country Field wallpaper – Conservatives Weave a Ragged History of Being Contrary

midwest landscape, wheat, fall colors,

Farm Country Field wallpaper

 

On any given day politics and politicians, regardless of political leanings, have a unique ability to elicit a what the heck moment. President Obama make the cut for today’s moment by way of comparison with conservatives Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Ronald Reagan, Steve Forbes, Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan and the notoriously corrupt Phil Gramm ( former Texas senator). The time Republicans embraced the Buffett Rule
It wasn’t long ago that top Republicans were appalled by the idea of giving super-rich investors a big tax break. Steve Kornacki writes something of a second part to an Ezra Klein post from a few months ago – Obama revealed: A moderate Republican. Obama and Congressional Democrats have implemented or tried to implement several public policy initiatives that conservatives supported….before Obama was president.

What does feel different, though, is how often we’ve heard Obama-era Republicans frantically sound the alarm over ideas that they themselves once embraced. The rendering of the individual healthcare mandate, a concept with deep conservative roots and one that numerous GOP member of Congress actively pushed for in the mid-1990s, as a jobs- and freedom-killing abomination is a good example of this.

Another, as it turns out, involves tax fairness. The outcry from the right over Obama’s renewed insistence that the wealthiest Americans assume a slightly higher tax burden has been fierce and unrelenting.

[  ]…Case in point: Reagan’s campaign for tax reform in the mid-’80s, during which he blasted “crazy” and “unproductive” tax loopholes that “allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.” A clip of the Gipper making that argument has been circulating online since last week.

[  ]…Forbes launched a lavish advertising campaign decrying the IRS and touting his own plan’s simplicity (you’d be able to do your taxes on a postcard!) while promising that it would unleash torrential economic growth. The idea, and Forbes, caught on. He began moving up in polling and attracting serious press coverage (like the Newsweek cover story that you see at the top of this piece). By January, he’d actually taken the lead in New Hampshire and had become a legitimate threat to win the nomination.

Which is when his fellow candidates started paying a lot more attention to him and to his flat tax plan. The attacks that they launched are notable in that they ran counter to just about everything the GOP now says about taxation and the wealthy and “class warfare.”

Take Gramm, who was positioning himself as the “pure” conservative in the race and offering a flat tax of his own. But there was a difference: His plan would still tax capital gains income, while Forbes’ wouldn’t. Gramm decried this as a politically suicidal giveaway to the rich, one that would sentence Forbes to a landslide November defeat if the GOP were to nominate him.

“There’s no doubt about the fact you could buy every ad on the Super Bowl,” Gramm said, “and you could never convince the American people that you ought to have a 17 percent tax on wages and salaries, but much of investment income should go untaxed.”

[  ]…What’s notable in looking back, though, is that Gramm, Alexander and Dole were all essentially endorsing the Buffett Rule. But just 15 years later, that position is now regarded as heresy in the GOP.

[   ]…Just consider the case of Buchanan, who remains a prominent voice in politics today.  On the McLaughlin Group recently, he asserted that the Buffett Rule is “rooted in the philosophy of envy.” He could have added, but didn’t, that it’s also rooted in the Buchanan ’96 campaign platform, because back then he savaged the Forbes plan, claiming that it was “worked up by the boys at the yacht basin.” And he introduced his own version of the Buffett Rule. “David Rockefeller,” Buchanan declared, “could move to Florida and pay less in taxes than the guy who’s serving him drinks.”

No exactly the same, but certainly on the same flat tax page is Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. It would worsen the deficit, but we all that conservatives don’t really care about the deficit as much as they do making sure right-wing sugar daddies do not pay taxes on their capital gains – America is still waiting for those low capital gains taxes to trickle down. While some years ago I heard a fairly good liberal argument for a flat consumption tax, no one has ever figured out a way to make it non-regressive. That 52% of the population that makes under $52k a year would be paying a huge share of taxes, way out of proportion to their earnings. Cain, Gramm and Forbes don’t care because, well they’re very wealthy. Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda outlet Fox News frequently floats the flat tax promise of nirvana.

If I said that there is a rumor President Obama might be challenged in the primaries by a candidate who is pro-choice, supported reasonable gun control like background checks for felons, was pro campaign finance reform, pro gay rights, pro immigration reform like the Bush bipartisan bill that Michelle Malkin called “shamesty” and was pro health care reform. Many readers would at least take an honest look at that candidate. That candidate would be Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. Mitt’s flip-flop-flips probably scare progressives as much as they do the Perry-Cain-Bachmann crowd, but if Mitt got into office and returned to his roots so to speak, he’d be more liberal than Obama. Today’s polls have Mitt and Herman leading in among right-wing voters. Herman is probably an outlier ( I’ll get to more of that in a moment), but how or what are conservative voters telling themselves about Romney. One thing Romney does do well and is consistent about, is pandering. Sure Mitt truly drinks the conservative economic kool-aid, but other than that he is willing to take any position that gets him into office. He is this election cycles vanity candidate. Where does Cain fit in. First a little armchair analysis of Cain’s thinking and Cain’s supposed conversion moment by We are respectable negroes, The Pain of Herman Cain: How a Chance Encounter at an African American Barbershop Helped to Create a Black Conservative 

Perhaps it is my love of theoretical physics and chaos theory. Or maybe I have watched the Star Trek TNG episode “Tapestry” too many times, but I wonder how that one moment impacted Herman Cain’s future political attitudes and life trajectory? Would Herman Cain have become a different person, one who is an upright and proud Morehouse man, and not a professional racism denier and enabler of white supremacy, if one of the brothers had given his woolly head a proper cut?

These conservative conversion stories are a dime a dozen…they were going down that dark path to Medicare and other atrocities perpetrated by liberals.. when duh, they saw the bright light of self obsessed greed, unhinged nationalism and trickle down economics. The kind of greed and self-absorption that supposedly was the key to making America great – Not the Constitution, the Civil War and emancipation, not the suffrage movement or 60s civil rights or the New Deal. I am always reminded of paleo wing-nut Norman Podhoretz and his encounters with black youth while he was growing up. What did I learn after reading that story – if some girls had assaulted Norman when he was young he would have grown up to be gay. If green people had assaulted him he would have grown up hating Martians. In Herman’s case it was all about a hair-cut. As to why Cain is doing well in conservative polls, Herman Cain, the Polls and What Race Has to Do With It

A few days ago on WRRN’s Richard French Live, however, former NY1 political anchor Dominic Carter and former Connecticut congressman Rob Simmons, a Republican, got down to it, musing that Cain’s appeal to white conservatives is related in large part to the Bradley Effect—the phenomenon of white people who, for fear of appearing racist, tell pollsters they’re going to vote for a black candidate but actually vote white (named after LA mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 gubernatorial race after polls showed him far ahead). French admitted he was relieved his guests brought up the Bradley Effect, so he didn’t have to.

I understand the feeling. In an age when even the most rabid birthers and mosque molesters fly into a rage at the suggestion they might be bigots, it’s become impolitic to state the obvious: that a lot of Tea Party types are crazy for Cain because he shields them against charges of racism. As the current hard-right favorite, Cain is proof of widespread Tea Party colorblindness, writes conservative pundit Ron Christie.

Some conservatives even want extra credit for favoring a “real black man,” as Cain calls himself, over someone like Obama. Laura Ingraham (who wrote in her Barack Obama “diary” that Michelle Obama eats baby-back ribs at every meal) clumsily endorsed that notion last week when she said that Cain “would be the first black president, when you measure it by—because he doesn’t—does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents? No, right?”

Cain’s candidacy can be used as a weapon as easily as a shield.

 

Throw in the obvious that Cain has been spouting his right-wing agitprop for 25 years and he is a reliable echo of well worn right-wing talking points. A good recent example – Herman Cain Defends Remarks On Racism, Occupy Wall Street (VIDEO)

Herman Cain on Monday defended comments about racism he’d made over the weekend.

“I don’t have a lot of patience for people who want to blame racism on the fact that some people don’t make in America,” he said on ‘The Sean Hannity Show’.

The GOP candidate claimed that his business and academic achievements were “walking proof ” that racial discrimination doesn’t hold people back.

His remarks backed up a similar complaint he made on Sunday’s ‘Face The Nation’.

“I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” he had said.

Cain also attacked Occupy Wall Street protesters for blaming banks rather than the president.

“I believe this a coordinated effort of the unions and Obama supports to distract the American people from the real problem which is the failed policies of the Obama administration,” he said.

 

You have to love how Cain uses the triple somersault of economic denial – Obama was not president when Wall Street gambled away almost $17 trillion dollars of the nations wealth.

I would be happy to admit that Cain is some small percentage of correct about people using racism as an excuse. People similarly use religious discrimination, gender discrimination, height discrimination and dozens if not hundreds of other reasons not to get their ass in gear and stop blaming others for their failures. Cain’s problem, like every other conservative is they take the very small percentage of people who wrongly use those claims to tarnish everyone. That is the very essence of racism, misogyny and other forms of discrimination – like being overweight. The fact is that there are  about five applicants for every job opening might explain why people are having problems finding jobs. The recession has hit black Americans especially hard – Black unemployment: Highest in 27 years. Older while males are having a tougher time than the past getting back on their feet – Older white males hurt more by this recession, but statistically they are still doing better than their black counterparts. Statistically the only group doing relatively well is older women – Big winners right now in the job market: older white women. The reasons for the last statistic is  related to who is hiring. Jobs have opened up in temporary and retail positions that pay lower wages. And in employment areas where women have traditionally done well like healthcare and education, there has been either some hiring or better retention. Cain should listen to Tavis Smiley’s fact based views instead of  the Koch brothers and knucklehead AM radio wing-nuts, Poverty ambassadors blast Herman Cain’s views on racism

“There are disparities in this country in every [socioeconomic] factor that we follow.  In every aspect of our human endeavors in this country there is a racial disparity element that’s a part of it. It’s almost silly to respond to [Cain] because the evidence is so overwhelming,” Smiley said in the interview with CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux.

“There’s disparity in healthcare. There’s disparity economically.”

Cain, Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich, Ron Paul and Romney all believe in these myths – 5 Conservative Economic Myths Occupy Wall St. Is Helping Bust

2. Rich people are “job creators.”

This is the old “trickle-down” idea — that if you give enough money to the already-rich eventually some of that money will trickle down to the rest of us. This is also called the “getting peed on” theory of economics.

The basis of this thinking comes from the theories of Ayn Rand, who argued that society consists of “producers” and “parasites.” Rand’s fundamentally anti-democratic ideology says that democracy is a form of “collectivism” in which people who don’t want to work and produce use their numbers to steal from a gifted few who are the “producers” of goods and services. Rand’s followers claim that wealthy people are rich because they “produce.” The rest of us are “parasites” who “take money” from the productive rich, by taxing them. This revenue is “redistributed” to the parasites to pay for our “entitlements.”

They say that if wealthy people have more money they will use that money to start businesses and hire people. But anyone with a real business will tell you that people coming in the door and buying things is what creates jobs. In a real economy, people wanting to buy things – demand – is what causes businesses to form and people to be hired.

History – and a quick look around us today – shows that when all the money goes to a few at the top demand from the rest of us dries up and everything breaks down.  Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going.

Annie Lowrey has a related article up today, another myth buster –  Why Small Businesses Aren’t Innovative. Everyone says small businesses are dynamic, market-shaking, job creators. But new evidence suggests that’s not true.

The researchers attempt to figure that out by surveying entrepreneurs, asking why they decided to start their own companies and what they hope to achieve. The bottom line? “Few small businesses intend to bring a new idea to market,” they write. “Instead, most intend to provide an existing service to an existing customer base.” And a relatively small proportion of small businesses have aspirations to get any bigger, either.

Indeed, the new business owners responding to the survey were lawyers, plumbers, doctors, shopkeepers, real estate agents, and the like—common village professionals. Fewer than half started a business because they “had a good business idea.” Many chose to start a business for “non-pecuniary” benefits, like being your own boss and keeping flexible hours.

The bulk of small businesses being created, in short, are not particularly innovative ones.

 

It is not that no one is out there “innovating” only that the innovators are a pretty small slice of the small business pie. So when it comes to public policy it is important to distinguish between tomorrow’s Steve Jobs and a doughnut franchise operator. The latter is hoping that people do not change their habits. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, only they are not the ones who are going to pay the wages that spur a lot of new demand.

City Night Skyline wallpaper – Conservatism Before Patriotism

city at night, city by the river

City Night Skyline wallpaper

 

Since it is an unusually slow news day even for a Sunday there is a general news round-up:

As Jobs Act languishes, McConnell says Obama wants gridlock

President Obama’s $447 billion jobs package appears to be headed nowhere fast in Congress, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is suggesting that’s exactly what the president wants.

In a statement Tuesday, McConnell said the White House’s “explicit strategy” is to “make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done.”

“The political operators over at the White House seem to believe that they benefit from the appearance of gridlock,” McConnell said. The GOP leader’s statement came after Mr. Obama sent Congress three long-anticipated free trade agreements. McConnell said the administration’s interest in gridlock explains both why it took so long to pass the trade agreements and also the status of the American Jobs Act.

McConnell is a walking PowerPoint presentation of Chapter One in the right-wing conservative play-book: Lie and Lie Big. Repeat lie as often as someone has a microphone in your face. McConnell(R-KY) is one of the conservatives who admitted he and his co-conspirators took the country hostage during the debt ceiling debate – risking another economic crash – and will take the country hostage again if their demands are not met without compromise. One of the reasons President Obama is struggling in the polls is that he has reached out to compromise with Republicans so often. Republicans are not responsible for the poll numbers – they never have approved of Obama even when he has implemented policies which Republicans had previously supported (for example the right-wing Heritage Foundation had supported Romney-care in Massachusetts, the plan that the health care reform bill was modeled on). Steve Bennen has some more examples where the conservative idea of compromising with Obama has been that they get everything they want.McConnell also goes on to claim that there is no use Republicans supporting the Jobs Bill because a couple of Democratic senators don’t support the bill. yea, that’s right McConnell and a dozen other Republicans would vote for the Jobs Bill, but only if it gets every Democratic vote. And the stork delivers babies.

There is always a reason for the Big Lie. McConnell and conservatives are scared that President Obama is gaining traction with the public. Oh and one other thing, the Jobs Bill will create jobs and lower the deficit – CBO: Obama jobs bill reduces budget deficit

The Congressional Budget Office on Friday confirmed that President Obama’s jobs bill would be fully paid for over ten years and also gave its seal of approval to Senate Democrats’ version that includes a surtax on millionaires.

The CBO said that the original Obama stimulus bill would involve $447 billion in tax cuts and new spending—the same estimate given by the administration. It said the bill would raise $450 billion over ten years. The result is a $3 billion decrease in deficits over ten years.

The Senate Democrats’ bill, which replaces Obama’s taxes on the upper middle class with a 5.6 percent surtax on those with annual incomes above $1 million, raises $453 billion over ten years and reduces deficits by $6 billion. The tax kicks in 2013.

 

Once again conservatives show they have no real interests in creating jobs or lowering the deficit. It’s all about making the conservative movement look good. Conservatism before patriotism.

Mitt Romney taps foreign policy, national security advisers

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday announced a team of dozens of foreign policy and national security advisers, tapping an array of Bush administration veterans and former lawmakers to help him shape his defense, intelligence and counterterrorism proposals.

[  ]…“America and our allies are facing a series of complex threats,” Romney said in a statement. “To shape them before they explode into conflict, our foreign policy will have to be guided by a strategy of American strength. I am deeply honored to have the counsel of this extraordinary group of diplomats, experts, and statesmen. Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century.”

This list of advisors is the rise of the zombie neocons. Romneys tea includes torture cheerleader and former CIA director Michael Hayden, Robert Kagan – who has never heard of a war that didn’t sound like a swell idea, former aid to Darth Cheney Eric Edelman, the Heritage Foundation’s Kim Holmes who advocates another preemptive war – this time against Iran and Eliot Cohen who was on the nefarious Defense Policy Advisory Board Member (2001-2009) – so he can be relied on to send your sons and daughters to die for some very serious reasons that only rabid ideologue can truly understand but will be draped in the kind of blood drenched fake patriotism for which the neocons have become famous. So much for Romney being the moderate.

Posters at The Volokh Conspiracy frequently get some things rights especially in regards the 1st and 4th Amendments even if they get there by some convoluted reasoning. This happens to be a rare time which the argument is mostly sound – Secret DOJ Memo re Awlaki Targeting, and NYT Public Editor on Policy-By-Leaks

I’m traveling and can’t stop to comment, but check out Charlie Savage’s New York Times story describing a secret DOJ memo, reportedly principally authored by David Barron and Marty Lederman, that provided the justification for putting Anwar Al-Awlaki on the targeting list in the first place.  Crucial reading on the targeted killing and drone debate.

One thought, however. As Jack Goldsmith and Ben Wittes have argued at Lawfare, and I have argued here and at Opinio Juris, although it is certainly helpful to have a summary in the press about the issues discussed in the secret memo and their resolution, the fact that it is merely leaked, quite apart from not making available the actual text, is a grave part of the problem here.  If it can be shown to press people and written about at length, then it should be made available publicly, as official policy and part of the process of defending the policy.  Leaks de-legitimize policy over the long run, and reforms to the accountability and oversight of “covert” actions that are not truly covert need to provide some mechanism for releasing information on their legal justifications.  It’s good that this information is out there; it is bad that it was put out there through leaks.

I’m not sure it is “bad” that we know because of leaks. It is mostly about appearances. I don’t have some poll numbers to cite, but my general take on reactions to policy regarding Al Aulaqi in particular is that the public wants to know the legal reasoning up front even if their mind is already made up about the legal reasons pro or con. It is not as though letting citizens in on the legal justification for killing an American enemy combatant will compromise national security. Still under debate is the use of drones for what appears to be what some have called targeted “assassinations”. Al Aulaqi death was justified under the circumstances, but that does not mean to me that the policies surrounding his death should be secret.

For Some, Wall Street Is Main Street

Panini and Company Cafe normally sells sandwiches to tourists in Lower Manhattan and the residents nearby, but in recent days its owner, Stacey Tzortzatos, has also become something of a restroom monitor. Protesters from Occupy Wall Street, who are encamped in a nearby park, have been tromping in by the scores, and not because they are hungry.

Ms. Tzortzatos’s tolerance for the newcomers finally vanished when the sink was broken and fell to the floor. She installed a $200 lock on the bathroom to thwart nonpaying customers, angering the protesters.

There is no excuse the  behavior documented in this article. The protesters or some of their sympathizers need to compensate these businesses for any damages and loss of business. It only takes a few bad apples and a few incidents to undermine the message of OWS. It may not be fair that talking about banks cheating people on foreclosures or other abhorrent behavior being over shadowed by abusing a public restroom, but it works like that. Some businesses report brisk sales in coffee, t-shirts and other items. Still we have the businesses that are being abused, nearby residents putting up with the noise and not being able to use the park, and apparently some sanitation issues in the park. OWS should be going out of its way to make sympathizers, not antagonize people.

Palin says it’s time to “reload for America”

“Now isn’t the time to retreat, now is the time to reload with truth so we can fight for this country and reload for America,”

Palin has a pathetic record of telling the truth and differentiating her fevered paranoia from actual reality.

“I’m talking about real hope, not that hopey changey stuff that some politicians try to get you go believe in.”

Palin has cashed in on her own brand of hopey changey stuff to the tune of millions. She made people believe she was going to run for president – took their money – then changed her mind. So if someone’s idea of hope and change involved President Palin they got the shaft in exchange for the donations Palin asked for . *Related to that link to Jon Stewart – Glenn Beck Has ‘Absolutely No Respect’ For ‘Non-Thinking Man’ Jon Stewart. Sort of like not being respected by the world’s biggest idiot. Something to be proud of.

Jon Stewart acts like Glenn Beck on the Daily Show

 

Why Herman Cain Is The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Presidential Candidate

 – Cain traveled to Wisconsin in support of the Koch-funded union-busting bill: During the apex of the fight in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union-busting bill this spring, Cain traveled to the Badger State to support the conservative power-grab, speaking at a rally in February. The Koch brothers were major players in Wisconsin’s anti-union push.

What did great cause did Cain fight for in Wisconsin? Besides fighting to take away rights from average working Americans – the Right usually calls those people thugs – Cain was fighting for tax payers right to buy iPads for Republicans

Despite Insisting State Was ‘Broke,’ Gov. Scott Walker Spent $60,000 On iPads | Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) infamously used his state’s budget gap as pretext to strip collective bargaining rights from public sector workers, insisting that “Wisconsin is broke” and thus extraordinarily measures were required. But the state is apparently not that broke, as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. just dropped “about $60,000? on brand new iPads for every person on their staff, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Actually, they bought more than enough, purchasing 73 tablets for only 63 employees (they say the are in the middle of hiring more people). The agency is a public-private hybrid, but a spokesperson said the iPads were purchased with state dollars.

October Autumn wallpaper – Narratives and Politics, A News Round-up

yellow and green leaves

October Autumn wallpaper

October Autumn wallpaper II

Kelly: Protesters To Be ‘Met With Force’ If They Target Officers.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had some strong words for “Occupy Wall Street” protesters Thursday, blaming participants for starting skirmishes which led to more than 20 arrests on Wednesday.

“What they did is they counted.  They actually had a countdown — 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 — they grouped together, they joined arms and they charged the police. They attacked the police. They wanted to get into Wall Street, they wanted to occupy Wall Street,” Kelly told reporters.

Street protests by their nature lend themselves to used as propaganda by people like Kelly. One of the most well armed, trained police departments in the U.S. with guns, mace, tasers, tear gas, batons, shields, armored cars and even the potential to shoot down planes are the poor beleaguered victims of protesters. Protestors who…gasp…locked arms, appeared hostile and said rude stuff. Should Kelly’s nickname be Chicken-little or Captain Wuss. As I mentioned the other day the police are actually aiding the erosion of their own rights as public workers who all belong to a union. The irony here is that despite all of the questionable over reaction by the police – who have clearly instigated many confrontations ( videos at YouTube), the people they are beating, arresting for questionable reasons and generally harassing, will be the same hippie troublemakers who have the cop’s backs when they’re in a labor dispute with the city. I would also humbly suggest to the protesters that they go out of their way to avoid conflict and be civil to the police.

Cop beating people up at occupy wall street – officer uses baton like a bat to beat protester for no reason

Fox 5 crew and protesters hit with mace and batons.

If you click the watch on YouTube button it will show related video on the side. What happens with demonstrations such is this is that you’ll have a large percentage of police acting badly. You’ll also have a very small percentage of protesters acting badly. The narrative gets hijacked by some in the media and the wing-nuts who hate the protesters. Instead of the police being held accountable for over reacting, the protesters become the evil Marxist America haters. It is already happening.

Nuclear Option?! What Really Happened On The Senate Floor, And Why It Matters

McConnell had the Senate rules on his side. His motion, however mischievous, was ruled in order. The stage was set for a vote. That’s when Reid whipped out an ace he’s had up his sleeve since he became majority leader — one that his liberal critics wish he’d used two years ago to end the filibuster and ram the Democratic agenda through the Senate without having to contend with frustrating supermajority requirements. Reid and 50 of his Democrats simply voted to overrule the parliamentarian’s decision that McConnell’s motion was in order. Presto, McConnell’s motion could not come to a vote, and Reid had avoided a political embarrassment — and eliminated a very small minority right in the Senate.

But this wasn’t just about checkmating McConnell. As he said in a statement late Thursday, “The Senate must have the ability to move forward on legislation that has broad bipartisan support. A small minority of senators cannot be allowed to bring bipartisan legislation, like a bill to end China’s job-killing, underhanded currency manipulation, to a grinding halt when 14 million Americans are out of work.”

To wit, after legislation has overcome a filibuster, only a very narrow set of germane amendments can come up for votes — unless the rules are suspended. Since Obama’s jobs bill is not germane to Chinese currency legislation, it was out of order, and suspending the rules was McConnell’s only way to force the issue. This thin reed of minority power has been ripped from its root, because of Reid’s play Thursday night.

This parliamentary stuff seems arcane, but it may or may not change the game. I have doubts Reid will use the procedure again, or rather expand it beyond this relative narrow situation where the minority tries to force a vote on legislation that is wedded to another piece of legislation. More here – Sensationalist headline about ‘nuclear option’ in the Senate! But not quite so.  And here ( though technically incorrect, Robert Byrd used a similar vote in the 1970s) – Harry Reid Busts Up Senate Precedent

Reid’s move Thursday, in that context, is less abusive of Senate precedent than it first appears. The current rules create a situation in which two 60-vote thresholds must be met before a bill can pass, the first to end debate and the second to move to final passage. McConnell’s move to suspend the rules could have created additional 60-vote hurdles, clearly in violation of the spirit of the post-cloture period, which is intended to be a short stretch until moving to final passage.

Reid is maneuvering for a vote on the Jobs Bill. While unlikely to pass the vote will do exactly what Mitch McConnell(R-KY) did not want. A Republican vote against creating a million or more jobs. That is more news worthy than anything else about this story. McConnel is on record as saying his number one job is making Obama look bad. Not job creation. Not lokking out for the economy and the American people. No Mitch’s job one is looking out for fake patriots of modern conservatism.

What is it about honest hard working Americans that pisses conservatives off to the point they will twist themselves into knots – Maine Gov. LePage dramatically changes his story on labor mural removal

As Political Correction notes,

LePage’s new line accusing the department of ‘robbing’ the jobless to pay for a painting is smarter politically than his clearly stated original reasoning, but state officials say that “nobody lost any benefits to which they were entitled,” according to the Portland Press Herald. Furthermore, the federal Department of Labor actually demanded that Maine return the money used to buy the mural if it is not going to be displayed any longer.

LePage getting some political sense will deprive the world of much-needed hilarity, but given that his recent forays into the news have included rejoicing over kids arriving at summer camp in private jets and signing a law easing child labor restrictions, it’s not like he’s about to become a political whiz en route to easy reelection.

One guy that sets at a desk and orders people around and the rabid Right gushes over him like pre-teens at a concert. The men and women who do the actual work that brings in the profits are just contemptible thugs. Way to go with that weird version of populism.

I am genuinely disappointed that Sarah Palin will not be joining the debates and running for president. According to her semi-regular missives from FaceBook she sees all and knows all. I guess she was holding back during the 2008 election. For Conservatives, President Palin is Gone But Still “Hot”. Warning there are some disturbing fits of conservative lust and idolatry documented at the link.

Herman Cain may have been and still might be yanking the Right’s chain about his presidential ambition. And he keeps weird company – Herman Cain’s weird opinion columns published by birther website

But WorldNetDaily considers Cain one of is own. Cain seems to write the columns himself (or at least he did initially, before his campaign took off), unless his ghost is particularly fond of exclamation points. None of them involve birtherism, which for years now has been WND’s sole driving concern. (Cain did flirt with bitherism earlier this year, thanks mostly to Donald Trump, but he now believes the president is an American.)

Farah, a friend of Cain’s for several years, told The Ticket that he has been surprised by Cain’s rise over the past few months. While Farah would not make an official endorsement, he said Cain is his “favorite” candidate.

Good work, Herman: You’ve got Farah’s support! That should be more than enough to overcome the fact that Cain is basically taking the month of October off from campaigning in order to sell his book, because this entire “presidential run” was basically done to create a little buzz around a burgeoning conservative media personality, and the fact that he’s now tied for second in the polls is due to the hilarious collapse of various other more “serious” campaigns.

A-la John McCain fake emergency stunt in 2008, Cain is actually taking time off some his campaign to sell his book. He seems to be out Palining Palin or out Newting Newt in using his presidential run as a way to advertise and profit off his brand. I went over and read a few of his very repetitive and fact lacking columns. One that stood out is Cain assertion that Fannie may and poor people caused the Great Recession. That has been proven to be the economic equivalent of birherism. Most sub-prime loans did not meet Fannie or Freddie’s standards. Both were largely out of the sub-prime game before the housing bubble. For all of Cain’s claims to be well informed and different from your run of the mill wing-nut, he believes in the same old crap and shovels it out just like all of them do.

Know Them By Their Contempt For Facts

Chris Christie(R-NJ) seems to be out of the presidential race this cycle. One poll has Romney back on top. While another has Mitt Romney and Herman Cain tied. Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News noise machine will still decide who the conservative presidential nominee will be. Give Fox a few days to let the dust settle and we should start to detect who they prefer. It could be something subtle like Romney is a nice guy and all, but maybe he’d be better as a VP candidate to Perry as president or refer to Cain as a possible VP to Romney.

I have to admit I like a certain amount of certainty in my life. While I get tired of my routine and like to change things around once in a while, a routine can feel comfortable. On the other hand conservatives seem obsessed with not just certainty for themselves but being very serious people, are super concerned that everyone else have some iron box-like certainty in their life. Other than pushing America toward the austerity that will mean a lost generation of workers, one of their highest priorities in the last two years has been certainty. They are good at it. They knew from 2000 to 2008 that cutting taxes and spending like crazy would be a major factor in crippling the economy. They acted with all the seriousness and certitude America has come to expect from the radical Right. Herman Cain shares that maniacal concern with uncertainty – Cain Claims That His Tax Plan Is ‘Not Regressive On The Poor’ — Economists Disagree

Of course, Cain took a few moments to promote his “999? economic plan, which calls for the corporate income tax and personal income tax to be set at a flat rate of 9 percent, as well as the creation of a 9 percent national sales tax. During the interview, Cain said his plan would not be regressive for low-income Americans:

The first thing you do is you throw out the current tax code which creates too much uncertainty, and this is why I have proposed my “999? plan. Very quickly, it imposes a 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal income tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. It expands the base so that everybody has a lower rate. And it is not regressive on the poor.

Cain seems to believe that, because his plan has a flat rate, it is not regressive. But sales taxes are hugely regressive on the poor.

Cain was part of a large corporation for years, he used to be a corporate CEO and is now part of a business group with business and financial holdings. In each of these stations he had a CFO or head accountant who knew what they would pay in taxes every year. Corporate America is certain it is sitting on trillions in profits. I’m not sure that his experience means he has no excuse for not running his numbers or that since he was a CEO, that explains why he doesn’t care if his numbers don’t work. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan

Praised by supporters for both its simplicity and its specificity, Cain’s plan drops the current 35 percent corporate tax rate to 9 percent, swaps the 6-bracket personal income tax system for a 9 percent flat tax and creates a 9 percent national sales tax.

“Our tax code is the 21st century version of slavery,” Cain said in a campaign video publicizing his 9-9-9 plan. “We will replace oppression with prosperity.”

Cain is a millionaire. he does not work per se. He is currently traveling around the country enjoying the leisure, luxury and lifestyle the vast majority of Americans will never know, no matter how hard they work. Is that the kind of slavery he is talking about. From the time he left college until now Cain has enjoyed a nice lifestyle – while I’m sure he has run into the same kind of cultural and institutionalized racism that every African-American experiences he can hardly describe his current circumstances as oppressive. His constant comparing taxes to slavery is almost as offensive and certainly untrue as Glenn Reynolds and his circle of jerks comparing taxes to rape – Humorless morons cracking rape “jokes”. Cain suffers the same malady I’ve observed in many right-wing conservatives over the years. They will have a certain skill set or talent, outside of that they’re all loony beliefs. In Cain’s case he has been surrounded for years by people whose job it was to say yes and to humor everything he said. Now he is of an age and disposition that he believes he is always right. No need to run any numbers through a real world situation. No need to make reasonable analogies between things – taxes=slavery. Sure they’re just the same.

Ezra Klein post on OccupyWallStreet – Who are the 99 percent?

“Married mother of 3. Lost my job in 2009. My family lost our health insurance, our savings, our home, and our good credit. After 16 months, I found a job — with a 90 mile commute and a 25 percent pay cut. After gas, tolls, daycare, and the cost of health insurance, i was paying so my kids had access to health care.”

Let’s be clear. This isn’t really the 99 percent. If you’re in the 85th percentile, for instance, your household is making more than $100,000, and you’re probably doing okay. If you’re in the 95th percentile, your household is making more than $150,000. But then, these protests really aren’t about Wall Street, either. There’s not a lot of evidence that these people want a class war, or even particularly punitive measures on the rich. The only thing that’s clear from their missives is that they want the economy to start working for them, too.

“I am young. I am educated and hard working. I am not able to pay my bills. I am afraid of what the future holds.”

[ ]…But this is why I’m taking Occupy Wall Street — or, perhaps more specifically, the ‘We Are The 99 Percent’ movement — seriously. There are a lot of people who are getting an unusually raw deal right now. There is a small group of people who are getting an unusually good deal right now. That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium.

The organizers of Occupy Wall Street are fighting to upend the system. But what gives their movement the potential for power and potency is the masses who just want the system to work the way they were promised it would work. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans are really struggling. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution. It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead — has been broken, and they want to see it restored.

The Right is starting to pay attention and they’re scared of these people – 5 Reasons Occupy Wall Street Is the Real Boston Tea Party – are the spirit of the real tea party. Right-wing backlash against Occupy Wall St. begins

Out of some combination of contempt and opportunism, Fox News along with right-wing pundits and magazine writers are calling out Occupy Wall Street as stupid, juvenile, and dangerous.

The strain of deep contempt is best expressed in this column by National Review editor Rich Lowry, titled “The Left’s Pathetic Tea Party”:

Occupy Wall Street is not a real answer. It is both more self-involved and more ambitious than the Tea Party. It represents an ill-defined, free-floating radicalism. Its fuzzy endpoint is a “revolution” no one can precisely describe, but the thrust of which is overturning our system of capitalism as we know it. If elected Democrats dare associate their sagging party with this project, they need immediately to consult their nearest psychiatrist and political consultant, in that order.

Abe Greenwald at Commentary expands on the idea that the protest movement will hurt the Dems:

These leftists are so reckless that an extended, high profile “occupation” movement of national reach would bury liberalism months before November 2012. It would, in short, function for Democrats exactly as Democrats had hoped (in vain) that the Tea Party would function for Republicans in 2010. In unhinged “Occupiers,” conservatives would find an easy and clean target to run against and destroy.

 

OK than destroy Democrats in 2012 running on a ticket and message that says decent hard-working Americans did all the things they were supposed to do, among them get an education and work hard – and portray these people as shiftless lazy Marxists. Not all of course, but much of what the Right is so livid about is gasp! returning to about the same tax rate all of us “slaves” paid during the Clinton administration. Or having the tax justice Reagan spoke about – VIDEO: Reagan Called For An End To ‘Crazy’ Tax Loopholes That Let Millionaires Pay Less Than Bus Drivers. Note that Ann Coulter and the other right-wing knuckle draggers are not calling Saint Ronnie a totalitarian.

AP sources: Bush-era probe involved guns ‘walking’. The DOJ does oversee the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That does not mean in the real world we all know that they got permission from Eric Holder for Fast and Furious. In fact the DOJ was prosecuting people for the Bush era Operation Wide Receiver. CBS and the right are making a huge deal about when Holder knew about F&F. he actually does not get an opportunity to fully answer Darrel Issa questions during the hearing the Right and CBS swears is a smoking gun. Issa keeps talking over him to score points. How this all turns out is still up for debate – especially since you know, all the facts are not in. I really would like to know why a conservative website calls itself The American Thinker. This is what passes for thinking over there – ‘The Black US Attorney Has Common Cause with the Black Criminal’ by Selwyn Duke

According to Department of Justice whistleblower J. Christian Adams, AG Eric Holder has a certain something in his wallet.  It is a quotation — and he has carried it for decades.  It essentially says, to quote Adams, “Blackness is more important than anything, and the black US attorney has common cause with the black criminal.”  It’s not surprising that Holder would feel this way about black lawyers and criminals.

Because in his case they’re one and the same.

Holder, the man whose misfeasance led him to drop the infamous Black Panther voter-intimidation case, now may have done what all corrupt men, sooner or later, eventually do.

The rest is the flimsy case that A.G. Eric Holder personally knew and condoned F&F. Does the name J. Christian Adams ring a bell. he is a notorious right-wing operative. The one that tried to hang the New Black Panthers voter intimidation case around Holder’s neck. In other words he and Mr. Duke have all the veracity of a cockroach fart – Manufactured scandal: Right wing’s phony allegations against the Justice Department

J. Christian Adams’ accusations that President Obama’s Justice Department engaged in racially charged “corruption” in the New Black Panther Party case do not stand up to the evidence. Adams is a right-wing activist tied to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department who has admitted he lacks first-hand knowledge of the events he is discussing, and his claims fall apart given the fact that the Obama DOJ obtained judgment against one defendant, while the Bush DOJ declined to pursue similar allegations in 2006.

[   ]….Adams is a long-time right-wing activist, who is known for filing an ethics complaint against Hugh Rodham that was subsequently dismissed, served as a Bush poll watcher in Florida 2004, and reportedly volunteered for a Republican group that trains lawyers to fight “racially tinged battles over voting rights”;

Adams was hired to the Justice Department in 2005 by Bradley Schlozman, who was found by the Department of Justice Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to have improperly considered political affiliation when hiring career attorneys — the former head of the DOJ voting rights section reportedly said that Adams was “exhibit A of the type of people hired by Schlozman”;

Adams has admitted that he does not have first-hand knowledge of the events, conversations, and decisions that he is citing to advance his accusations;

The Bush administration’s Justice Department — not the Obama administration — made the decision not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation at a polling center in Philadelphia in 2008;
The Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party carrying a nightstick outside the Philadelphia polling center on Election Day 2008;

The Bush administration DOJ chose not to pursue similar charges against members of the Minutemen, one of whom allegedly carried a weapon while harassing Hispanic voters in Arizona in 2006;

No voters have come forward to claim that they were intimidated from voting on account of the New Black Panthers standing outside the polling center in 2008;

The Republican vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is currently investigating the Justice Department’s decision, reportedly said that the other conservatives on the Civil Rights Commission were trying to use New Black Panther case “to topple” the Obama administration. Thernston has also called the case “very small potatoes” and criticized the “overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges” surrounding it, and said that rhetoric has not “served the interests of the commission”; she further said that DOJ has given a “plausible argument” for not pursuing additional charges in the case;

 

Bush’s ATF Director Rebuffs Right Wing’s Fast And Furious Theory

For months, the right-wing media has been desperately trying to tie the ATF’s failed Fast and Furious operation to the upper reaches of the Justice Department and the White House, claiming that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must have known the flawed techniques used by the ATF despite their denials.

The right-wing media claimed that the stimulus funded the operation; that wasn’t true. They claimed that Attorney General Holder “took credit” for Fast and Furious in a speech; that wasn’t true either. They’ve even claimed, absent any evidence whatsoever, that the Obama administration deliberately set up the operation to arm Mexican drug cartels in order to justify increased gun control.

But in an appearance today on Fox News, Michael Sullivan, acting director of the ATF under President Bush, pushed back against such claims, saying that Operation Fast and Furious was “well within the rights of the director [of ATF] to approve or reject,” and that he would be “surprised” to learn that “authorities outside the ATF” would have known the details of a specific firearms trafficking operation.

Black and White Sea Coast wallpaper – “It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies…”

ocean rocks, landscapes, nature, beautiful views

Black and White Sea Coast wallpaper

 

While I wish the OccupyWallStreet protesters the best I still have reservations at the effectiveness of protests on long-term change. They are a modern-day David versus Goliath and this is just one major example of how rigged the game is – Is JP Morgan Getting a Good Return on $4.6 Million “Gift” to NYC Police? (Like Special Protection from OccupyWallStreet?)

[  ]…JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center.

…But what, pray tell, is this about? The JPM money is going directly from the foundation to the NYPD proper, not to, say, cops injured in the course of duty or police widows and orphans. But that is how the NYPD Police Foundation works.

…So while this effort to supplement taxpayer funding has a certain logic, it raises the nasty specter of favoritism, that if private funding were to become a significant part of the Police Department’s total budget, it would understandably give priority to its patrons.

Every city and state has had cutbacks. Sometimes cutting hours, sometimes cutting pay and sometimes laying police and other public service workers off. One can imagine the NYPD ( with an annual budget of around $4 billion dollars) heaving a big sigh of relief at this donation. It would not be the first time in America’s troubled history of money and politics creating dubious outcomes for average and relatively powerless folks. Even if that is not the case with this donation – it looks awfully unethical. I doubt that every front line police officer is cool with a lot of what is going on – macing, creating combative situations, throwing people down on the pavement, possibility luring protesters into situations where an arrest can be justified( more on that at the link). There is certainly some irony here and some of those union officers have to be aware of it. This is from a statement of grievances of the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

[  ]…They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

hey have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

There is no in other words, part of what the protesters are after is protection of police rights as workers, as public employees, as parents, as consumers and as investors ( police unions frequently invest their funds in mutual funds). So the police are actively working to stop people from acting on behave of their best interests. maybe they think some big donations now will save them from Wall Street’s rapacious behavior. Looking back over how powerful financial interests have treated organized labor and public employees I tend to doubt JP Morgan or anyone else on Wall St has their best interests in mind.

Koch Brothers Flout Law With Secret Iran Sales

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”

She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France.

“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings. The letter was made public in a civil court ruling in France in September 2010; the document has never before been reported by the media.

Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.

This is a very long investigative piece. Some people seem to be reading the headline and then skimming. I am not taking up for Koch, I just want to note that since they initiated some investigations into these illegal sales they may have provided some plausible claim of being caught up in the schemes of one of their subsidiaries. Though it is rather amazing for two control freaks like the Kochs not to know that Koch industries made various incentive payments(bribes) in 6 countries over 8 years. Which as noted above they knew was in violation of federal law. A  Senate investigation found did find the Koch’s stole 1.95 million barrels of crude oil pumped from federal lands by falsifying purchasing records. This kind of fraud and thief was described by the whistleblower as the “Koch Method”. Ignoring safety regulations they are responsible for the deaths of at least two people in 1996.

Former Koch employees in the U.S. and Europe have testified or told investigators that they’ve witnessed wrongdoing by the company or have been asked by Koch managers to take what they saw as improper actions.

Sally Barnes-Soliz, who’s now an investigator for the State Department of Labor and Industries in Washington, says that when she worked for Koch, her bosses and a company lawyer at the Koch refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, asked her to falsify data for a report to the state on uncontrolled emissions of benzene, a known cause of cancer. Barnes-Soliz, who testified to a federal grand jury, says she refused to alter the numbers.

“They didn’t know what to do with me,” she says. “They were really kind of baffled that I had ethics.”

Because of the recent resurgence of a conservative-libertarian fixation on Friedrich Hayek and the anti-Keynesian Austrian economists I’ve been reading various articles on Hayek to refresh my memory. While liberals and progressives would certainly have problems with some of Hayek and also agree with some elements of his economics (“Was Hayek really a minimal state theorist? After all, he thought that we
needed the state, not only as protector but also as provider of public goods.” – Gerard Radnitzky,Professor of Philosophy and friend of Hayek), one thing that Hayek and most of the Austrian school would condemn along side liberals is this deeply corrupt corporatism. The Kochs may be beyond simply corruption and believe themselves to be something like feudal overlords for who laws and rules of decency do not apply.

Whose Economy? GOP Pins the Tail on the Donkey. For eight years Bush 43 and the Republicans who ruled Congress for 6 of those years with an unprecedented level of gross incompetence, maliciousness and wild spending, blamed everything on Bill Clinton. Bush 43 leaves office, the conservative masses blame everything on President Obama. I know four-year olds who are better at owning their behavior. Conservatives are never accountable or they want credit where it’s not do. I know their moral compass has been shattered since the 1950s. It seems their sense of responsibility and civic duty is equally dysfunctional.

Just this past September 25 was the anniversary of the first proposal of the Bill of Rights ( September 25, 1789). The very first article in that Bill contains the free exercise clause. Herman Cain Defends His Sharia Conspiracy: ‘Call Me Crazy’

On ABC’s This Week, host Christiane Amanpour confronted Herman Cain about a comment he made to ThinkProgress. “There’s this creeping attempt…to gradually ease Sharia Law and the Muslim faith into our government,” Cain told us in March.

After showing Cain his quote, Amanpour asked him to respond to Chris Christie, who has said, “This Sharia law business is crap, it’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.” Cain responded:

CAIN: Call me crazy. … Some people would infuse Sharia Law in our courts system if we allow it. I honestly believe that. So even if he calls me crazy, I am going to make sure that they don’t infuse it little by little by little. … American laws in American courts, period.

AMANPOUR: American laws are in American courts. So the people of this country should be safe for the moment.

Cain pretends to be an expert on the Constitution. he might want to actually read it sometimes and the laws which served to inspire certain inalienable rights such as religion. If Sharia law ever conflicts with the Constitution, that law will be struck down. The people who will be the first to see to that are old guard liberals that conservatives such as Cain hate, like the ACLU. Actually an odd assortment of liberals, progressives, libertarians and moderate Republicans would never let any religion legislate itself into our courts. That is of course if there was an actual threat of Sharia law –

As the ACLU has explained in a thorough legal analysis, the “creeping Sharia” rhetoric is a mythical menace and a fabricated threat:

There is no evidence that Islamic law is encroaching on our courts. On the contrary, the court cases cited by anti-Muslim groups as purportedly illustrative of this problem actually show the opposite: Courts treat lawsuits that are brought by Muslims or that address the Islamic faith in the same way that they deal with similar claims brought by people of other faiths or that involve no religion at all. These cases also show that sufficient protections already exist in our legal system to ensure that courts do not become impermissibly entangled with religion or improperly consider, defer to, or apply religious law where it would violate basic principles of U.S. or state public policy.

Why does Herman Cain continue to have such contempt for American values, history and law. This nutcake is moving up in the wing-nut straw polls. Since Cain has little grasp of the nation’s history and the basic rights and protections spelled out in its legal framework is probably oblious to some cultural cutoms. Among some religious communties such as Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Hasidic Jews, Quakers and Native American religions we do allow people to settle many personal issues according to their religious customs ( fundamentalist Pat Robertson recently informed his listeners that divorce was OK when one partner gets Alzheimer’s is just one example). Cain and the Rights reactionary bent is a threat to everyone’s religious freedom.

 

“It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies…” – Benjamin Franklin.

Full Moon Skyline New York wallpaper – The Serious People May Cause a Deeper Recession

american city skylines

Full Moon Skyline New York wallpaper

 

Krugman on the serious people and austerity economics – Defeatism

Martin Wolf is getting frantic, as well he should. The austerians have brought us to the brink of a vast disaster. A recession in Europe looks more likely than not; and the question for the United States is not whether a lost decade is possible, but whether there is any plausible way to avoid one.

Wolf directs us to a recent speech by Adam Posen (pdf), which opens with a passage that very much mirrors my own thoughts:

Both the UK and the global economy are facing a familiar foe at present: policy defeatism. Throughout modern economic history, whether in Western Europe in the 1920s, in the US and elsewhere in the 1930s, or in Japan in the 1990s, every major financial crisis-driven downturn has been followed by premature abandonment—if not reversal—of the macroeconomic stimulus policies that are necessary to sustained recovery. Every time, this was due to unduly influential voices claiming some combination of the destructiveness of further policy stimulus, the ineffectiveness of further policy stimulus, or the political corruption from further policy stimulus. Every time those voices were wrong on each and every count. Those voices are being heard again today, much too loudly. It is the duty of economic policymakers including central bankers to rebut these false claims head on. It is even more important that we do the right thing for the economy rather than be slowed, confused, or intimidated by such false claims.

Indeed. Posen’s “unduly influential voices” are my Very Serious People.

The serious people include some of the conservatives of course, and the European Central Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Bank for International Settlements. It has never been the case that a nation has cut spending to the bone to spur an economic recovery. Yet here we are caught in some weird bubble of disinformation, half-truths, distortions and plain old lazy thinking which says times are bad so slash and burn. Krugman, Posen and Wolf are not the only ones. In yet another recycling of the facts a new post by the CBPP notes – “Supercommittee” Should Develop Balanced Package of Tax Increases and Spending Cuts

The new congressional committee on deficit reduction (the so-called “supercommittee”) not only can consider revenue increases, but must consider them — as well as spending cuts — if it’s going to produce a balanced plan. [1]

There are five main reasons why.

Spending cuts alone can’t do the job. The key fiscal policy goal is to reduce deficits sufficiently to stabilize the debt relative to the size of the economy. The only way to accomplish this without severe cuts that would hit low- and middle-income Americans hard — in areas ranging from Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly Social Security to basic assistance for the poor — and weaken core government functions like education, scientific research, and ensuring safe food and water, is through revenue increases.
The 2001-2003 tax cuts are a significant contributor to projected deficits. Letting some or all of those tax cuts expire would make a significant contribution to reducing the deficit.
Higher-income people can and should share in the sacrifices needed to reduce long-term deficits. Low- and moderate-income households shouldn’t be forced to bear a disproportionate share of the burden through cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and programs targeted on people who are poor or near-poor.
Taxes are low both in historical terms and in comparison with other countries. By either standard, the United States has significant room for increasing tax revenues.
Higher taxes are not an inherent barrier to economic growth. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that tax increases used to reduce budget deficits can improve long-term economic growth and job creation. The experience of the 1990s shows that claims that reasonable revenue increases will sink the economy largely reflect politics and ideology, not solid analysis.

Taxes do not stop growth

 

That last sentence says it all. Democratic and progressive bloggers, the few national pundits we have, can all put up all the charts, graphs and studies they like. The Serious People have battened down the bunker latches and no amount of ‘solid analysis” is going to penetrate. Too bad we can’t materialize their “philosophical” arguments into solid material and make actual bunkers out of it. Would make good helmets and flak vests as well. As an economic tool however it is pushing us into the Great Recession part 2. Passing Obama’s Jobs Bill would help, but the U.S. economy is not an island.

The VSPs

Investors Back Obama’s Buffett Rule

Global investors overwhelmingly support President Barack Obama’s proposed tax increase for those earning annual incomes of $1 million or more in an effort to reduce the deficit.

By a margin of 63 percent to 32 percent, respondents in a Bloomberg Global Poll approved of the president’s proposal, known as the “Buffett rule” in a nod to Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., who has said it is wrong that he pays a smaller share of his income in taxes than does his secretary.

Obama said Sept. 19 that making sure that the wealthy pay at least the same tax rate as the middle class was “just the right thing to do.” House Speaker John Boehner accused the president of practicing “class warfare,” saying any new tax would hurt job creation and Buffett’s situation was not typical.

The Bloomberg story makes an interesting contrast with how co-founder of Home Depot Bernie Marcus sees things – Bernie Marcus on Obama White House: ‘Amateurs Surrounded by Amateurs’

The Georgian who every Republican presidential candidate wants in his camp still hasn’t  decided who he’s going to back. But although Bernie Marcus believes in abortion and gun control, he knows who he won’t support: Barack Obama.

In an interview at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation meeting here, the billionaire philanthropist and Home Depot co-founder lambasted the “amateurs in the White House” as “amateurs surrounded by amateurs.”

Marcus reminds me of most, though not all the CEOs of large companies that I have either meet or read about – they have crossed the line from confident to arrogant. This is largely because they live in a bubble where no one tells them they’re wrong. Everyone kisses their ass. They become disconnected from the realities of working class America. Bernie Marcus was part of a big call by some large corporate powers to stop unionizing efforts – Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To Defeat Key Labor Bill

“This is the demise of a civilization,” said Marcus. “This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I’m watching this happen and I don’t believe it.”

Setting aside guilds for the moment, American workers have been unionizing since the 1800s. The country not only survived but unions are largely responsible for all the workplace niceties such as lunch breaks, sick leave, fair pay and safer working conditions that most Americans now take as standards. A self-described elder statesman who a billionaire thinks people like him should have all the rights and privileges in the world, while workers should be careful about getting uppity. What other group of people in American history thought like that. As anyone who has shopped there knows a good portion of Home Depots products are made in China. Creating American jobs is not exactly a priority at Home Depot in other words. They cannot even sell American goods to government – Home Depot Facing Lawsuit for Violating the Buy American Act; Lists Chinese-made Products on GSA Schedule. Marcus is not so much evil as another clueless hypocritical member of the elite who loves the sound of his own voice.

While it is a very good idea for Congress to pass some legislation for dealing with American citizens who move out of the country and help foreign enemies I find it difficult to say that the killing of al-Awlaki was completely wrong based solely on “due process”. What Process is Due?

A corollary to Bobby’s second point in this post is that it is not enough to say the words “due process” by way of denouncing the Al Aulaqi strike, as though those words represent a discussion-ending argument. One has to specify what process is due to someone being targeted in a particular circumstance before one concludes that the targeting violates due process. If targeting Al Aulaqi were really an assertion of the power to kill any U.S. citizen anywhere based on his speech, I would find it alarming indeed. But I am, in fact, quite certain that Bobby is correct that it is no such thing. I am sure that if the internal legal arguments emerged, they would reflect–and, indeed, those legal arguments that are public do reflect–a dramatically narrower assertion of the power to target a U.S. citizen, one with which I have no deep-seated discomfort.

And this – Al-Awlaki as an Operational Leader Located In a Place Where Capture Was Not Possible

In the flurry of al-Awlaki coverage today, there are two points that I think are particularly worthy of attention.

First, does this show that the U.S. government asserts authority to target based on speech alone?  One might get that impression from some of the coverage, but it is worth recalling what the government had to say about al-Awlaki in the ACLU lawsuit last year: he was involved in violent plots as an operational leader, not just as an idealogue.  In my paper addressing al-Awlaki, I summarized the government’s description of his role as follows:

In a declaration filed by the government in connection with the aforementioned ACLU lawsuit, the Director of National Intelligence asserts that “Anwar Al-Aulaqi has pledged an oath of loyalty to AQAP emir Nasir al-Wahishi, and is playing a key role in setting the strategic direction for AQAP. Al-Aulaqi has also recruited individuals to join AQAP, facilitated training at camps in Yemen in support of acts of terrorism, and helped focus AQAP‘s attention on planning attacks on U.S. interests.”23 The declaration adds that al-Awlaki personally instructed Abdulmuttalab “to detonate an explosive device aboard a U.S. airplane,” as part of a larger shift toward an operational leadership role with AQAP.24

al-Awlaki did not just declare war on the U.S. he declared war on civilian men, women and children around the world whether they be Christian or Muslim.

Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher was on CNN and made this comment on Herman Cain’s claim that most African-Americans have been brainwashed by Democrats – ‘One of My Best Friends is Black’

So great job there. Really sensible, Herman Cain.

The second part here is, it’s really a teachable moment. You know, if I came on your show, Anderson, and I said, all Jewish people are brainwashed, I probably wouldn’t be invited back to CNN and I assure you the condemnation would be swift and it’d be powerful and be strong.

What Herman Cain said was a racist, bigoted statement and it should treated like a racist and bigoted person who makes those racist and bigoted statements.

 

Every side thinks the other side has been listening to too much trash. Many Democrats, such as myself believe that part of the problem with conservative polices and the people who vote for them, is those people have had certain cultural issues and beliefs exploited. Thus they vote against their own best interests. Brainwashed? Probably not so much. Most conservatives come to issues with a certain psychology that predisposes them to be a little paranoid, to be xenophobic, to not be able to make the connections between issues like taxing the very wealthy and how that affects the quality of their kids education, the readiness of their fire department and America’s technological edge. As a southern I find it especially telling that the far Right’s last stronghold ( and that is changing because of demographic trends) is the south. These are states who generally get more of that federal money they say they hate than they contribute.  It is where wages are lower and there are higher percentage of uninsured. The south is where there is some income redistribution. It is to Red states from Blue states. And at least through the secondary level that education achievements are below average. Abet slowly, things are changing. They might more readily identify with being called “conservative”, but if you ask them about individual issues like Social Security, workers having rights, women having the last say over their own medical decisions…well a sizable number come out looking kinda liberal.